Vietnam past and present
An adventure to the far-east country of Vietnam that has long been hidden from the lens of photographers

Date: Oct 4 - 16
Long divided by wars and history turmoil, Vietnam now appears in a different color and is becoming a great inspiration to the lens of photographers. From the northern mountainous regions with colorful tribal groups and well preserved traditions, to the old castles and architecture of the Central, down to the peaceful river life in Mekong delta of the South. Vietnam is surely a memorable part of any photographers' diary.

Trip highlights

• Travel on the less traveled paths of Vietnam

• Get to see the most typical Vietnam scenes in all threee regions: North, Center and South

• Capture the 3 World Heritage sites


Group size: 8
Space available: 8

We start in Hanoi – the city of soaring dragons with a thousand years of history. Hanoi is one of the oldest capital cities in Asia. Undergone through that much of time, Hanoi witnessed the invasion of the Chinese, the Mongolian and the French – all left their traces here. During the colonial time, this city was known as “Paris of the Orient” with lakes and shaded boulevards. Hanoi now unveils a great charm to the lens of photographers and photo lovers. We wander in the Old Quarter – where markets are on the streets, people washing their hair near the traffic, lazy coffee drinkers sitting on the sidewalk enjoying coffee, a woman selling flowers on her bicycles…all create an exotic picture of Hanoi’s lives.
 
Leaving Hanoi, we head for the further northern parts of Vietnam – these are characterized by high mountains, jungles, terraced rice fields and tribal groups. Here we participate in a mountain market – one of the highlights of our photo trip. Unlike any other kind of market, the mountain markets of north Vietnam are where people carry along anything from their domestic products for exchange. You could see a man holding chickens or pigs in his arms and join the market , or a couple walking their buffalos to the market for sale…Usually a mountain market is, no less important than a real festival, held once per week, and at this time the whole scene of the region turns colorful with thousands of people dressed-up in their traditional tribal costumes. Mountain markets provide great photographic opportunities to capture a beautiful character of minority people’s life. Of course, we will also have a chance to walk in a tribal community, learn and capture their rudimentary way of life.
 
Center of Vietnam is distictive compare to other parts of the country in terms of culture and traditions. The city of Hue is the capital city – also the former capital of Vietnam during the 19th century. This was proclaimed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1993 for its imposing royal architecture. This was where the Nguyen dynasty – the last monarchy of Vietnam – ruled the country from 1802 to 1945. Central Vietnam is also where the old town of Hoi An is located. Hoi An was, once upon a time, the busiest seaports in Asia where ships from around the world would dock to exchange products. Hoi an now is a peaceful, laid-back town stretching on the bank of the river. While the bustling image of a seaport is gone, Hoi An retains an old atmosphere with its 18th, 19th architecture and beautiful countryside. This town was listed as a World Heritage site by the UNESCO in 1999.
 
South Vietnam is home to the Mekong delta – where the mighty Mekong river empties itself into the East Sea. Characterized by hundreds of small rivers and canals, Mekong delta in South Vietnam is a stunning area to photograph the river daily life of the local. Here we will have a chance to see one of the most colorful activity: The floating market. Early in the morning, hundreds of boats gather at a rivers’ joint and exchange products before heading out for one day selling. We will boat into the middle of this busy market and photograph boats heavily loaded with fruits and flowers. Last but not least is Saigon, the city with 300 years of history. Here French architecture from colonial time is well blended in with the old Vietnamese temple/pagodas. While history very much refers to Saigon as a war, the city now is home to amazing rhymes of dynamic life. From the bustling markets to the chaotic street life, you have it all in Saigon.
 
So pack up and join us on this unique adventure - the Past and Present of Vietnam.
 



Itinerary from Oct 4 - 16       Download in pdf version

Day 1. Arrive in Hanoi
 
Late today, meet your photographic tour leader in group briefing, get prepared for our upcoming tour. The group have welcome dinner at a local restaurant. (D)
 
Day 2. Hanoi streetlife photography and night train to Lao Cai
 
Today we set out early to visit the local bustling market of Long Bien - the largest vegetable and fruit market of Hanoi. You will be amazed by how crowded and chaotic this market is with thousands of people struggling in their buying and selling. After shooting at the market we leave for a local restaurant serving Pho and enjoy our breakfast with this traditional soup of Vietnam.
After breakfast we depart for a local quiet pagoda. Here we photograph our young models in their traditional costume: Ao Dai. This traditional costume of Vietnam has been the country's image for several centuries and well known for its elegance.
 
After lunch, we continue for some streetlife photography in the Old Quarter - the most crowded and alive part of Hanoi. This area is characterized by thousands of little colorful business, narrow streets and crowded traffic movement. Here we take photos of local people in their natural pose: cooking, eating, washing hair, etc. After the walk we have a coffee-break in a local cafe overlooking the Old Quarter and take some panorama photos of this central part of Hanoi. 
 
Dinner at local restaurant. Overnight train to Lao Cai. (B/L/D)
 
Day 3. Lao Cai - Can Cau - Sa Pa
 
Arriving in Lao Cai train station early in the morning, a 1.5 hours drive brings us to the mountainous town of Bac Ha. Here we have our breakfast and coffee, prepare our gears for our highlight of the day – Can Cau market – one of the most colorful markets in Lao Cao province. Here, every Saturday the whole valley of Can Cau turns in blossom with the costume of the local H’mong people coming for their once-per-week market. We capture people exchanging their goods, eating and a variety of chickens/cows/buffalos/horses being sold. After the market, we walk up hill into a H’mong community, meet & greet the local while capturing their everyday life. Lunch in town of Bac Ha.
Late in the day we drive to Sa Pa, a beautiful town set amid mountains. Dinner on your own. Overnight in Sa Pa. (B/L)
 
Day 4. Sa Pa – Ta Giang Phinh - Lao Cai
 
Free and easy morning at Sa Pa doing your shopping or walk into the town’s market.
After lunch we head for Ta Giang Phinh – a community located in a valley surrounded by vast terraced rice field. This is a scenic village of the H’mong people, with rudimentary way of life. We walk in this community and have abundant of opportunities to capture people’s lives. Afterwards we choose our convenient spots where we could capture the amazing terraced rice field.
After some 3 hours in Ta Giang Phinh, we depart for Lao Cai. Have our dinner here and board our overnight train back to Hanoi. (B/L/D)
 
Day 5. Ha Noi - Ha Long bay
 
Early morning we arrive in Hanoi. The group head out to the bank of the Returned Sword Lake where we see hundreds of local staring their day doing their Tai Chi or exercise. After this have our breakfast and depart for Ha Long bay.
 
Ha Long bay – 3 hour drive from Hanoi – is a magnificent site with thousands of karst formations jutting out of the sea, dotted by fishing communities. Here we have our private boat and sail our to the sea. After lunch with seafood, we visit the Surprise Cave with our tripods. This is the most beautiful and biggest cave on Ha Long bay. We will shoot inside the cave, capture the sparkling stalactites and stalagmites. Later on, if time and weather permit, we will hike up hill and capture Ha Long bay in the golden sunset. Dinner and overnight on board. (B/L/D)
 
Day 6. Ha Long bay – Ha Noi - on flight to Hue.
 
This morning, a 45 minute excursion on sampan brings us to a beautiful floating village on the bay. We photograph the fishermen's all-year-around life on the water. If lucky, we might have a chance to see local children rowing their boats to the floating school nearby.
 
At 11.00 we dock and leave for Hanoi. Arrive in Hanoi mid afternoon. Free time until depart for the airport, catch our flight to the imperial city of Hue.(B/L)
 
Day 7. Hue Imperial city and royal architecture
 
Today, we head out to take photos of the Imperial city of Hue - the former capital of Vietnam from 1802 – 1945 with imposing castles and citadel. Following by our visit to a royal tomb - where a king was buried. In the afternoon we head out of town to take photo of some coastal villages, timing to catch the fishermen coming ashore after a day fishing out. (B/L/D)
 
Day 8. Hue - Hoi An
 
This morning, we take a 3 hour driving from Hue to Hoi An, taking the most stunning pass named Hai Van, considering the natural border between North and South Vietnam. Arrive in Hoi An around noon time. Hoi An was a busy sea port during the 16th - 18th century and famous for its old architecture. In the afternoon we leave for our capture some of Hoi An's typical scenes including the architecture, the peaceful daily life of the surroundings. (B/L)
 
Day 9. Free day in Hoi An
 
A free day to relax and do your shopping.
 
Day 10. Hoi An - Da Nang - Saigon
 
Today we board our flight to Saigon - capital city of South Vietnam. Saigon is the most dynamic city and also the most vibrant in Vietnam. A variety of opportunities awaiting us to capture the people’s lives. We will head out for the China town, where we take photos of the bustling Binh Tay market. Then we reach the nearby exotic Thien Hau pagoda where we see the local practicing their worshipping tradition. (B/L/D)
 
Day 11. Sai Gon - Can Tho
 
This morning we have a guided tour to see the highlights of the city includes the Independence Palace and the War Museum - famous for its 2nd floor - Requiem. Here we have a chance to see an exhibition of photographs taken by war photographers depicting the Vietnam War and its holocaust. Also we will pass by the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Saigon Post Office to experience the colonial architecture.
After check out of hotel, our group will have lunch then depart for Can Tho – the capital of the Mekong delta. This nice little town is our base for our upcoming photo adventure. (B/L/D)
 
Day 12. Can Tho floating market
 
Mekong delta – the biggest delta lying to the southern part of Vietnam is characterized by hundreds of canals banked by coconut trees. Life, thus, involves activities on the water and the most stunning is the floating market. Here, from early morning, hundreds of boats heavily loaded with merchandise busy exchanging their products.
 
Today we will rise early and spend our morning photographing the floating market. Our boat will make its way into the middle of the water traffic jam to create the best photo opportunities. After several hours shooting here, we spend the rest of the morning free to wander in the town, perhaps go to the local market where you could capture more of the local's daily life.
 
In the afternoon we drive 45' to reach Bang Lang Stork Garden where we have great opportunities to shoot wild life at one of Vietnam's biggest Stork Gardens. We time the right moment when thousands of storks come back to their nests just before the night falls. (B/L/D)
 
Day 13. Can Tho - Saigon
 
This morning after breakfast we drive back to Saigon and ready for our flight home. End of services. (B)
 
Cost of package
Note
Total cost
38,220,000 VND
(1820 USD)
Deposite for trip
7,665,000 VND
(365 USD)
Single supplement
8,820,000 VND
(420 USD)

Inclusions
• Meals as mentioned
• Tour leader & local guides
• Private transportation (van + other transportation type)
• Cruise on Halong bay (2 day/1 night)
• Accommodation as stated
• All domestic flights
• Admission fees

Exclusions
• International flights
• Visa 
• Insurance of any types
• Tips and personal expenses (laundry, phone bills, beverage...)
1. Accommodation
A range of 3* hotels are picked up as our choice for accommodation. This is based on the fact that these hotels are located near our shooting areas.
 
2. Meals
Vietnamese meals are our number one choice. During the trip you are taken to beautiful restaurants from North to South and get to tast the authentic Vietnamese cuisines.
 
3. Physical requirements
Vietnam Past and Present is a moderate pace trip. This tour package is designed to suit the majority of people without the needs of special physical ability. Of course, at some point we may get up as early as 5.00 am to capture the sunrise or the local daily activities.
 
4. Gears
Momentlives suggest you to carry these equipment along:
 
• A DSLR camera body. Best to have two bodies in case one goes malfunction.
• Two lens: A wide one (such as Canon 17 - 40 mm or 16 - 35 mm) and a tele one (like the 70 - 200 mm). Lens should have UV filter.
• A light traveling tripod
• A shutter release cable
• Memory card reader
• Spider Holster